Empathy is no more a dispensable soft skill languishing down in the priorities of an organization. The need for empathy has never been greater than the current times where employees are struggling with psychological, emotional, physical and job security. Even though most of the companies have given remote work and other benefits, according to a global survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG, 29% of employees felt that there wasn’t enough empathy showed by their organization.
Why do leaders struggle with emotions in general? According to Businessolver’s sixth annual State of Workplace Empathy study, 68% of leaders fear that if they betrayed emotions they may be perceived as weak. There is a long standing belief that business functions better without emotions, that decision making works better if you take the emotions out. Sadly there are ample proofs of this model of success. Companies, for ages have prospered at the cost of employees, so why change anything. The change is a demand of the times we’re living in where human values are more important than money. The workforce is more loyal to a company who provides respect and dignity.
Here are four qualities leaders can develop to increase empathy.
Forget yourself for a while and identify yourself with another person. Try to look at things, his/her situation from his/her perspective.
Remove all forms of judgement. Judging others is one of the spiciest part of our lives, we love doing it. But judging inhibits the other person to be himself/herself.
Being able to understanding and express feelings and emotions beyond the words and expressions of another is essential in order to build a true connection.
Finally you need to express what you feel back to your team members. This has a dominos effect. The team then have the courage to speak their hearts out and connect with others.
The good news is that the novel Covid 19 virus has accelerated the empathy process. According to the same study mentioned earlier, empathy ratings have gone up 31 points in 2020 and in 2021 72% of employees felt that their organization and leadership were empathetic; 9% jump from the previous year.